You may want to read "What
makes a stone into a gem?" It explains why gemstones are
transparent, the qualities of crystals and other useful
Here I have listed gemstones by their mineral composition.
Birthstones are shown on a separate page, along with comments about how
we compiled the list.
Writing and phtographing gems is a big task, so only
certain stones are clickable links. I am
adding further pages when I can. Also I have to wait
until I get suitable stones with interesting inclusions for the
photographs. The pages are for your enjoyment, admiring and
photographing the gems is the fun part for me!
I have taken all the photographs
for these pages. I used a digital compact camera (different
models over the
years) held to the eyepiece of a microscope (using a UV filter
to protect the eyepiece from scratches).
I recently bought a Dino-Eye Microscope Eye-Piece Camera AM323X, which replaces the microscope eyepiece. However it has not replaced our older system as it has serious limitations. The exposure cannot be adjusted (essential when photographing gems), and definition is poor compared to our compact camera. When pictures were taken with this camera, I have noted it on the relevant page.
At first photos were
edited with MS Photo Editor then I used Irfanview. For the last few years I've used Serif Photoplus.
You will note that the gemstones appear rather dark, this is because
the light is carefully arranged to reduce the normal reflections,
so you can see detail within the stones.
Resizing and cropping the pictures for these pages does result in
loss of detail. So I am adding links to the original photos if
they show more detail.
Their size shows these also have been cropped.
There are 2 reasons, both linked to the difficulty of taking the
pictures. Sometimes blank areas outside the stone are removed,
also at times the circular barrel of the microscope blanks out
part of the picture. So these larger pictures are cropped, and
colours are corrected.
Colour correction is necessary because simple cameras get confused by the dominant
colour of the stone and adjust the colour balance incorrectly; so I make sure the colour you see is what I saw through the microscope. They are not edited in any other
While writing about each gem, I have commented on how to
clean the stones. For further information do consult our
Also note that I give this
advice free, and cannot accept responsibility if a gemstone is
damaged by cleaning. If you have any doubts, always consult
a jeweller. Be especially careful if the stone is
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Gems arranged by mineral family
Corundum - Ruby, Sapphire
(show a 'star' shaped reflection)
Beryl - Emerald, Ultramarine
Quartz - Amethyst, Citrine, Smoky
Quartz, Rock Crystal
Chalcedony(micro-crystals of quartz) - Agate,
Man-made stones - Cubic Zirconia,
Organic Gemstones - Pearls, Amber
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